Hustlers like Hosseini

As students of writing, we are often given opportunities to learn about writers we may not have ever heard about. Ones with styles unique to our own, who can give us new insight into how we may present our writing to the world or how to improve our own writing techniques. For most of us Eagles, it’s likely that we’ve often been instructed to read, study, and analyze the writings of mainly European or American writers. Although there are numerous talented writers that are American or European, it is best to not forget that writing and writers are just as diverse as the populations of the earth, meaning that we ought not to limit ourselves in our studies. The field of writing is open for all writers of any nation, of any descent.  

Meet, for example, novelist and physician Khaled Hosseini. Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, Hosseini and his family were quite accustomed to the refugee life. When Hosseini was eleven years old, he and his family were forced to relocated to France because their home-land was invaded. Four years later, because they were still unable to return to Kabul, Hosseini’s family applied for and were granted political asylum in the United States, and shortly after were given citizenship.

While Hosseini was studying medicine in the United States, he also worked on his first novel, The Kite Runner, a work of fiction which centers around the life of an adult Afghan refugee who tries to heal from the trauma he experienced as a child. It centers around the themes of the violence and warfare; its effects on family and children; and how those affected can learn to accept and recover from the violence. Hosseini, however, was quite unaware at the time that his first novel would become an international success, becoming available in over sixty countries, and remaining on the bestseller list of his own country for well-over a year. When being interviewed about what aspiring (and veteran) writers can do to improve their craft, he presented us all with his simple, but worthwhile advice:

“Read a lot. Read new authors and established ones, read people whose work is in the same vein as yours and those whose genre is totally different. You’ve heard of chain-smokers. Writers, especially beginners, need to be chain-readers. And write every day. Write about things that get under your skin and keep you up at night.”

Hosseini is just one of the many brilliant examples of writers we may not hear too much about. However, fellow Eagles, let not our sights become narrow to the writers who are just like us. We will never grow that way. Instead, let us collectively open up our minds to exploring writers who are totally different from us. We have so much to learn.    

Introducing Kim Addonizio

During the second night of February of this year, phenomenal poetess and author Kim Addonizio graced the House of Georgia Southern with her electrifying presence. Addonizio, proud mother-author of two novels, two story collections, two poetry-writing instruction books, and of seven poetry collections, gave public readings of her poetry from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., courtesy of The Department of Writing and Linguistics and The Georgia Poetry Circuit.

Little in stature, but mighty in the word, Addonizio’s presentation was likened to that of lightning: Brilliant. Captivating. Undeniably powerful. As she read to the audience from her latest poetry collection, Mortal Trash (W. W. Norton), she allowed us access into her world. More importantly, into her life, her story, and into the moments that made her become who she is.

Following her readings, she bestowed upon us audience members the opportunity to ask her questions, and to have them answered. When asked about how did she arrive at the position of courage that allowed her to so boldly become raw with her poetry, she responded simply and wonderfully that “this is what literature is about – being human.” She furthermore went onto explain that as writers, or those who aspire to become writers, it is imperative for us to become comfortable with “telling our stories however way we can tell it.” Addonizio mentioned how in poetry, “everything is fair game,” meaning that anything from our lives could be written about, if we so choose.

Lastly, although most importantly, she eloquently reminded us all, myself included, that in order to get anywhere with our writing, we need to “not worry whether people are going to react [or not],” but to mainly do it for ourselves. So that we are using our gifts. So that we are putting our literary treasures out into the world.

Overall, having Kim Addonizio visit Georgia Southern University was an absolute pleasure, and we hope we can have her back here again sometime soon. Addonizio is also the award winner of two Pushcart Prizes, fellowships from the NEA, and also from the Guggenheim Foundation. She was a finalist for the National Book Award for her masterful poetry collection Tell Me (BOA Editions, 2000). She enjoys teaching and speaking across the country, and internationally.

In addition to her awesomeness, she also a member of the musical group Nonstop Beautiful Ladies, in which she plays the harmonica. May she continue to be so amazing!

 

Why Writing is Good Stuff

Sometimes Creative Writing gets a bad reputation. More than likely we have heard how pursuing a writing degree (or any liberal arts degree) is not a worthy cause, and that those foolish enough to enter will be heading towards a fruitless future. However, despite what has been said, there are actually good things to come out of being a writer.  

For one, it is through the process of writing that we refine our communication skills. Without knowing how to efficiently communicate with one another, we cannot expect to succeed as a society or even as a world.

Secondly, the more that we write, the better we are able to make meaning out of the events happening in our communities, societies, and in the world around us. It is through the outward observation of the state of affairs occurring here on planet Earth, as well as the inward exploration of the affairs happening within ourselves, that we can acquire the material needed to form our stories and understand our lives.

Thirdly, when we are writing, we are sharing our knowledge, our thoughts, our emotions, and other valuable parts about ourselves or perspectives. By doing this, we may come across numerous similarities among each other, which can lead us to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, we’re not as different as we had previously thought. As a result, we are better able to understand our own human nature, along with those of our neighbors.  

It is also through the process of writing that we are able to yank our imaginations from out of our minds, and lay them out for ourselves and for our fellow humans to observe. When we do this, we invite others, and the entire world, into our worlds. We allow them to dabble in homelands built out of our fantasies, and to explore and adopt lives to which we have given birth. When we produce our stories, whether we are aware of it or not, we are in agreement with the truth that we are world-creators; that we are earth-shakers; mystics with the pen.  By sharing ourselves like this, we are giving our planet a mighty and irreplaceable gift.

To write means to connect with ourselves and others.  To write means to seek understanding and meaning in our lives. To write means to have fun with our imaginations. To be a writer means to leave the world a little better than how we found it.

As a side note: the Department of Writing and Linguistics here at Georgia Southern is home to an abundance of classes, and a treasure-trove of professors whose desire is to push and inspire students to be the best writers they can be. Come and see us sometime!

What’s Inside Those Newton Walls by Christine Lengel

As a student of Georgia Southern University, I come to campus every day prepared to learn and ready to have professors challenge me. Each day as I walk along the cobblestone paths past the numerous brick buildings, I notice the ominous feeling these buildings leave me with. As I approach the Newton building, I examine these bricks even closer and think about the off white classrooms waiting inside, realizing that Newton is just like any other building on campus.

When I reach my classroom for the day, I remember that unlike math or biology, my writing classes are a special place. It’s a time where my professors, who are novelists and poets with multiple published books, challenge me to make a difference. They pull me into a world where my words make a meaningless conversation into an enticing piece of art that leave people wanting more.

As a class, we do not memorize terms or examine graphs to learn, we read world-renowned poems, short stories and novels analyzing the published work. We come to class and fill pages of blank notebook paper with words drawn from writing prompts. We share our writing with the class and find ways to build each other’s work. A classroom setting in the Newton building feels like a writing family, a support system.

Over the past three years and seven writing classes, I have grown to love those off white classroom walls and each time I leave I anticipate the next time I am reunited with the inspiration that I am greeted with inside them. As a voice of the students in the Writing and Linguistics Department, I believe that I can say, the professors of our department have shaped me into a better writer. Although inspiration is a huge part of writing something moving, there is a craft in writing and this craft must be taught. I can now take writing sprung from inspiration and comb it into an incredible piece of writing. I owe this and so much more to my professors in the Department of Writing and Linguistics.